Internet of Things

Updated: 12/10/2023 by Computer Hope
Internet of Things represented by a smart speaker connecting to other devices in a home.

Coined in 1991, Internet of Things (IoT) is an idea of all objects in the world being uniquely identifiable, tracked, and connected to the Internet. If every object could be identified and tracked, businesses could more efficiently manufacture products, as they would know how much inventory they have available and what needs to be ordered. People could quickly and easily find whatever they needed by searching the Internet and locating the item or person they needed.

The first technology considered the start of the Internet of Things was RFID (radio frequency identification). Devices with RFID had a unique identifier and could be tracked like inventory. Computer systems can identify where RFID devices are within a short distance. Security systems often use RFID devices for tracking employees in buildings or equipment in warehouses and can give a virtual map of everything in a building or warehouse.

People envision the future, the Internet of Things, as a place where even people could be uniquely identified by some form of device or computer chip. It can provide for a safer world but also create larger paranoia, where people think they are being watched. At the rate technology is advancing and shrinking in size, the Internet of Things is not far-fetched and could be closer than we think.


IoT was featured as a top term of 2019.

IoE vs. IoT

The Internet of Things focuses more on connecting physical things to the Internet. IoE (Internet of Everything) focuses on connecting everything, not only devices. Also, IoE includes some intelligence with AI (artificial intelligence) or ML (machine learning) to make all connected systems work and understand their environment. In some ways, IoT could be considered a part of IoE.

Examples of IoT devices

Below are examples of IoT devices used today. You may already even use one of the following IoT devices.

  • Smart door locks - Door locks that connect to the Internet to allow doors to be opened from anywhere and to be notified when doors open, close, or remain open.
  • Smart light bulb - Light bulb that connects to the Internet and is remotely controlled using your smartphone.
  • Smart speaker - A smart speaker like the Alexa from Amazon that's connected to the Internet and can be interacted with using your voice.
  • Smart thermostat - A smart thermostat like the Nest Thermostat learns your home's heating and cooling habits and lets you control your home's temperature remotely.
  • Smart wearables - Wristbands or smartwatches that connect to the Internet and control other things. These devices may also monitor steps and your heart rate.

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